Sunday, October 24, 2004

Honorary Foods of Fall/Winter 2004

As chief cook, I declare an honorary food (or two) each season. I experiment with new dishes and new ideas using that food. I learn both the chemistry and romance of the chosen it feels, smells, tastes and reacts when cooked different ways. Family and friends feast on the results.

The White home's honorary foods of Fall/Winter 2003 were pumpkin and cakes. I made cakes almost every week for our Friday Family group. Some cakes were superb...some were less than smashing successes. (All were eaten, I might add.) I made pumpkin cakes, pumpkin soups, pumpkin-veggie dishes, pumpkin cookies. My speciality last season was a pumpkin cheesecake that I took to potlucks and served at holiday get-togethers.

Our honorary foods of Fall/Winter 2004 are soups and apples. I confess....I've been negligent in whipping up apple dishes, because Ron and Andrea crave my homemade soups. We've had unseasonably early cold rains, and our Southern California air feels more like post-Thanksgiving than pre-Halloween. So soup season has begun.

I've created 4 homemade soups in 2 weeks, and all have been aromatic, hearty, healthy and oh-so-delicious. Both declared my Mexican tomato chile soup to be their fave thusfar, although I'm partial to the French country chicken herb soup with pasta shells.

To start the Mexican tomato chile soup, simmer one chicken carcass in 8 cups water for several hours, until the fragrance fills your home and chicken bits are falling off the bones. (Tip - never throw away chicken carcasses. Freeze for homemade chicken stock. I learned that tip on FoodTV.) Fish the carcass and loose bones out of the stock, remove remaining meat from the bones, and put chicken shreds back into the soup.

Add to the stock and simmer for 30 minutes...a 14.5 oz can diced Mexican-style tomatoes, a 14.5 oz can unseasoned diced tomatoes, 1/2 can mild Ortega chiles, 2 tbspns garlic powder, 2 substantial sprinkles of garlic salt and Tabasco to taste. Garnish with grated cheddar cheese and sour cream, and serve with warmed corn tortillas and your favorite sandwiches. We savored this soup with my in-demand Dijon egg salad on whole wheat.

I wonder if they'll eventually let me meet my apple goals this season?

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